The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center’s mission is to inspire every generation to reach for the stars, through engaging, artful and entertaining activities that explore astronomy, aviation, earth and space science.
Who We Honor
Alan Bartlett Shepard (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was the first American in space in 1961. He was selected from a pool of 500 test pilots to become one of the seven original Mercury astronauts. He was a native son to New Hampshire growing up in Derry and attending Pinkerton Academy and then the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He demonstrated great courage and curiosity in playing a key role in the development of the nation’s space program and served as a real role model as the nation aspired to explore the universe outside earthly bounds before the Soviet Union could. He also made space more humanly accessible by coining the "astronaut's prayer" and being the first person to enjoy golf on the moon! We honor his memory and accomplishments at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
Sharon Christa McAuliffe (née Corrigan, September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986) was one of the seven crew members of Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-51-L and the first teacher in space. While the "space race" captured the nation's enthusiasm for exploration, the shuttle program, envisioned to be an economical workhorse ferrying people and material to build a low earth orbit space station, did not enjoy the same support. To recapture the public's interest in its programs NASA launched the “Teacher in Space” program that would allow a normal teacher to broadcast lessons from space to American classrooms. Christa was selected from 11,000 applicants to lead these lessons and completed full astronaut training. Tragically, the Challenger exploded shortly after launch and all seven crew members were lost. Although Christa was unable to teach the lessons she planned during that mission, her motivation to open minds to learning, "I touch the future, I teach," lives on. We honor Christa’s memory and accomplishments at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
The Discovery Center has an amazing collection of innovative, interactive exhibits to explore. Delve into the worlds of astronomy, aviation, Earth and space sciences and become immersed in this entertaining learning environment.
There are programs at the Discovery Center for all ages! From our planetarium theater to our high-tech observatory to workshops for Little Explorers and educators alike… there is something for everyone at your Discovery Center.